Perhaps Jacob deGrom doesn’t read the story of Samson as a cautionary tale. The Mets’ hurler sheared his shoulder-length locks at the start of the offseason and apparently believes the new haircut will make him stronger on the mound. “I did some research and I found that shorter hair actually will speed up my delivery and add two more miles to my fastball,” deGrom told the New York Daily News on Sunday (with an impish grin, one has to imagine).
While there’s no doubt that it would be incredible to see deGrom’s fastball routinely top 97.9 MPH on the radar gun, maybe he’s forgotten about another powerhouse pitcher with an ill-advised trim:
Tim Lincecum, pre-haircut (2009-2014): 3.72 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 9.3 SO/9, 18.9 fWAR
Tim Lincecum, post-haircut (2015-2016): 5.81 ERA, 4.8 BB/9, 7.2 SO/9, -0.4 fWAR
Okay, sure, Lincecum’s abrupt decline and subsequent disappearance had far more factors in play than a poorly-timed trip to the barber, but I’m just saying that it looks like a bad omen.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.